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Plant writings, gardening thoughts & observations of Paul Hervey - Brookes, Award Winning Garden Designer & Plantsman.
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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Creating a Garden on 3 t's

At last the sun has shone down on the garden at Painswick and the snowdrops are looking stunning.  I have to admit I have a new favorite in the form of Galanthus atkinsii ‘James BackHouse‘ its abnormal growth habit makes it look rather quite jolly and indifferent to the perfection of other types such as G. ‘Magnet’.

(Photo: The 3 Counties Showground)
I Travelled to the 3 Counties Agricultural Society Show Ground last week and was struck by the rich brown colours of the hedgerows, I wondered if against the moody backdrop of the overcast Malvern Hills the foreground colour’s were enlivened, seeming to almost leap out at us along the way.  It would be naughty of me to spoil the surprises in store for Spring Gardening Show visitor’s this year, but I can say it is very exciting.  I also notice the large number of Wellingtonia, or correctly named, Sequoiadendron giganteum around Eastnor Castle. 

Sequoiadendron giganteum is the sole species of the genus and one of 3 species which make up the group of plants known as redwoods.  All in Cupressaceae, the others are, Seqouia sempervirens & the rather beautiful Metasequoia glyptostroboides.  Growing to a towering average height of 280ft, 85m in the English landscape with the sun behind them Sequoiadendron giganteum dominate in an electrifyingly prehistoric way.  The oldest recorded specimen is 3500 years old and on average each tree bears 11,000 cones dispersing 400,000 seed annually.  In 1853 John Lindley gave the tree its invalid name of Wellingtonia gigantea.  Wellingtonia had already been given to Wellingtonia arnottiana, in a different floral family.  

(Photo: Sequoiadendron giganteum)
Wellingtonia is the most common name for this plant in England but sadly it was not the last, in 1854 Joseph Decaisne renamed the tree as Sequoia gigantea but again this name was invalid for the same taxonomic reasons and later in the same year it was renamed as Washingtonia californica, which you will guess was invalid as the name Washingtonia applies to a genus of palms.  This naming process carried on until 1939 when it was final given its current name.  Sequoiadendron first appeared in Britain in 1853 and spread through Europe from then.  The great plant collector William Lobb collected a large amount of seed in 1853 for the Veitch Nursery.  In England it is a fast growing tree, reaching at Benmore, Scotland 177ft, 54m in 150 years.
(Photo: Sequoiadendron giganteum immature cone)
That is my first T, my second was an amusing encounter I had in Thomas Cook, not very plant orientated you may say, but I was actually trying to book flights for a plant observation and seed collecting trip we are beginning to organise.  There is a lot of, and rightly so, paperwork and planning needed to ensure we are doing things correctly.  I digress.  So I approach a sun kissed lady and asked if she knew about direct flights to Tel Aviv from the United Kingdom, to which she replied ‘No I don’t know really, its not a beach destination is it?’  Suffice to say we are now flying British Airways.
My last T for this imaginary garden of T's is slightly tenuous but is linked by travel and my writing if not person are travelling abroad this month.

(Photo: January's Garden Design Magazine Issue Cover)
From now until June I will be publishing a series of posts mostly relating to elements I am including in a Show Garden I will be creating at Chelsea Flower Show this year.  I have been invited to do this by the editorial team at Garden Design Magazine.  This is a fantastic American gardening magazine which has a great content formula not to mention their annual awards for design projects.  The online portion of the magazine is also fantastically interesting with a huge mix of content.
You can read my first contribution here.


Liza said...

Oooh, I wish I could go on a seed collecting trip! That sounds amazing!

Also, thanks for the history lesson! Very informative.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading your blog, its factual but humourous, its evident you know your stuff. I am so pleased you have been noticed by a magazine, here's hoping it leads to more!!

with very best wishes from a keen gardener,

Miranda Bell said...

Lovely posting - some of the botanical names of the snowdrops are wonderful... funny I was at school with someone called James Backhouse! Believe you me it's not warmer here in Brittany at the moment than the UK - hope it warms up soon!

Christine B. said...

I was dumbfounded at your first picture. A garden show outside in Februrary? I just returned from attending one in a convention center and that was exotic for me. I'm just going to pretend that all that snow out the window isn't there....

Christine in Alaska

VP said...

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with at Malvern. Myself and another blogger are arranging a bloggers' meet up there this year :)

We're also visiting Painswick for some snowdrop peeping on Friday, is the nursery also open then?

Paul Hervey-Brookes said...

VP - I have only just seen your comment as I have been working away in rural Hampshire all last week so sorry I was unable to get to the nursery to see you. I will not be making anything at Malvern this year other than to visit the show on preview day. I hope you blogger meet up goes well. all the best Paul.

Trädgårdsmakare Hillevissan said...

Cheers from Hillevissan, Stockholm, SWEDEN; have a nice weekend!

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